Seeing Lagos, Nigeria, Through New Eyes with @temi.coker
When Temi Coker (@temi.coker) was 11 years old, he left his home in Lagos, Nigeria, for Arlington, Texas. Then, a few years ago during college, Temi developed a passion for photography and began searching for a way to bring his culture and art together.
Last December, opportunity struck. His grandmother was about to turn 70, and the family in Nigeria had some portraits commissioned to commemorate the moment. But when the photos didn’t meet Temi’s expectations, he made up his mind: He would return to Nigeria and take them himself.
Back in Nigeria, Temi began to see Lagos differently as he looked around through his camera’s lens. “For me growing up, when I moved to America everybody was making fun of Africa,” he explains. “I said, ‘Ok, well, my job here today is to go find the beauty in Nigeria and to allow people to see a different side than what they see on TV.’”
As he revisited the beaches, city streets and markets of his childhood, he was struck by the beauty he saw not only in the surroundings, but also in the people. From women selling crops to suya sellers to police officers directing traffic on their days off to fishermen cleaning out their canoes in the morning, he found inspiration in the working world of Lagos that he’d never noticed as a child — and he shared it with the #temixnigeria hashtag. “I just wanted to show people what it’s like to actually go to a place where you were born, now with a new vision, and capture the essence of that. Not to make the story about me, but about Nigeria and how beautiful it actually is.”
With a renewed sense of confidence as a photographer, Temi returned to Texas where he’s begun to take on professional work and develop many personal projects, including multiple-exposure manipulations and a storytelling series that shows the Nigerian traditions alive in the US.